Don't bother with the bobbleheads on the Sunday talk shows this morning. They're just going to recite the DC CW. John Paul II was really a Right Wing Republican and this justifies everything George W. has done and proves Liberals still secretly admire Stalin. The Democrats forced the Terri Schiavo mess on us and proved once again how out of the mainstream they are and they'd better figure out how to get more votes from religious lunatics and white Southern racists. Tom DeLay is a bad guy but he's a rogue Republican and has nothing to do with the GOP rank and file and once the Congressional Republicans cut him loose they'll come back stronger than ever and the Democrats will be sorry to see DeLay go. That Schiavo memo was real, but it doesn't mean anything, and the Democrats are just proving how desperate they are harping on it. It's truly spring now and the Democrats' predictions that there would still be snow on the ground in Florida in April proves once again how week they are on foreign policy.
You don't need to hear any of that, again. If you want commentary, we've got commentary for you right here, round the clock, on WLNC Action News Live!
One of the best things about having a webpage is the comments. (And that remark proves that I don't get much comment spam or many trolls. In fact, I've never had a single troll show up. Some conservatives have stopped by, but they've all been decent folks and have left interesting comments, and I wish they'd stop by and write more often.) I can tell from Typepad's stats and referers page that most of our radio audience doesn't look at the comments. This is why I've finally activated the Recent Comments feature over on the right.
In addition, I'm going to make a regular habit of devoting a post to commentary. Starting today. This isn't a greatest hits exercise or a way to show favoritism. It's just a random sampling of all the interesting voices that have sounded off in the comments section over the last couple of months. Some of these folks have blogs of their own and I recommend you check them out. Just click on the links.
OK, if you're ready, I'm ready. Let's go to work.
In my post on long ago Dodger great Gil Hodges, It's Fiddler Crab Season, I mentioned that his teammate Pee Wee Reese liked to say that Hodges' hands were so big he didn't need a glove to play. Bill Altreuter came through with the perfect quote:
Gil was my gradfather's favorite, too. In my family the Dodgers departure was viewed as base betrayal-- I don't know anyone that stayed a fan after they left. But about Gil, big guy. Peewee Reese said of him, "Gil just wears a glove at first base because it is fashionable."
Jill Bryant reacted to my observation in Eloise Lives! that Americans have a talent or losing and regaining their innocence:
I wonder whose innocence is always being proclaimed? Perhaps it's our Administration's. That way there is a great excuse for having ignored all the signs leading up to 9/11 - along with saying the U.S. was no longer going to participate in the peace process for the Middle East - and even ignoring any hopes of a treaty to keep North Korea from producing nuclear weapons.
I guess they didn't know how bad the bad guys really were. They thought they could concentrate on syphoning off as much money as possible while picking and choosing which enemy we wanted to pay attention to (would it be too cynical to say - which one we could get the most money out of? Maybe that wasn't it - let's cling to THAT innocence.)
Of course, once they found out, that meant the U.S. could throw out the rules of the Geneva Convention or, heck, the Constitution. I wonder what kind of enemy we were supposed to be facing before 9/11. As you said, we don't have to look far to see what man is capable of, Pogo. But where is the surprise in those we've fought? I heard of kamikaze fliers long before suicide bombers, "The Rape of Nanking" portrays a pretty brutal enemy, I know the Germans were very sterile about it but they seemed to have broken a lot of rules of humanity to me - and that's just WWII. To our shame we ignored the war in Rwanda but after reading about a father willing to make an example of his sons by killing them because they were half Tutsi, well, that genocide could take all shreds of anyone's innocence away...And yet, there are still the lines of Anne Frank's "despite everything...I still believe in the inner goodness of man."
I'm sorry - I think I am going way off topic on a rant you inspired....
So, along with the absurdity of the comments you mentioned, what about the destruction of children's innocence after school shootings like Columbine? When they can't even feel safe in their school hanging out with other students? If that's how it works, it seems like that would finish off some childhood fantasy figures pretty quickly on its own.
Writing about the "dearth" of conservative college professors in Whatsamatta U., I suggested that one reason that there aren't a lot of conservatives in faculty dining rooms is that professors are bookish folk and conservatives tend not to be bookish. To which Alex, usually identifying himself as burritoboy in his comments, took issue:
Well, actually, I would say you're wrong. It's not that (real) conservatives aren't bookish. It's that American "conservatives" aren't really conservatives.
Real conservatives, that is, the royalists and aristocrats opposed to the French Revolution and their intellectual descendants over the following century or so, were just as literary (if not more so) than the folks on the left side of the aisle in that converted tennis court. Baudelaire. TS Eliot. Flaubert. Matthew Arnold. Rimbaud. Celine. HP Lovecraft. Nietzsche. Mishima.
However, there essentially hasn't been a single American conservative, except maybe for Henry Adams (who certainly doesn't fit into any concievable mainstream of American conservatism), who fits in with this crowd (T.S. Eliot and HP Lovecraft pretended to be Englishmen). There just isn't much "conservative" in America to defend. Where's the aristocracy, where are the old ruined monasteries, where are the faded barons of the old nobility? Instead, you have "conservatives" defending Eli Lilly and Halliburton and the suburbs of Houston and shitty country music, the precise things real conservatives hated more than anyone.
Maybe Russell Kirk. That's the best I can suggest.
My post on Terri Schiavo, There is no Terri to save, brought in a lot of impassioned comments, which probably doesn't surprise you. For example, here's Aunt Deb:
I don't know if people sympathize with the Schindlers or with "the cause". For example: here in Delaware, the Sussex County council passed a resolution "in support" of the Schindlers. Now, what can this possibly mean? There are a number of rather vital matters which need to be addressed in Sussex County and only the county council can address them; nevertheless, the council took the time to think up, discuss, and vote on this resolution. Is this "sympathy" or something simply pathological?
And it isn't just Catholic priests who are using this poor woman's plight. The Presbyterian minister here in my town gave an Easter sermon which included a comparison of Terri to Jesus.
Karen Quinlan's parents, after an almost equally long time, eventually accepted the fact that their daughter was not experiencing any enjoyment of life (and quite possibly, the opposite) and would never improve. An understandable parental hesitance to let go, perhaps abhorrence at even the thought of giving up, eventually gave way to scientific knowledge of the day, to wit, quiet, contemporary reason. Dealing with the ultimate heartbreak of losing a child is rough enough. If you combine this with a call to any other parental instinct, such as here the Schindler's belief that they are their daughter's sole protector against a man they blame in part for Terri's current condition, it becomes easier to understand why they won't give up. They have never had a chance to grieve. They have been in a defensive posture for so long, they know no other. This is, at its base Homo Sapien Sapien level, about human nature, not faith. To allow this situation to be characterized in moral, ethical, scientific, and religious terms without first understanding that no matter what era, country, or planet we are on, the father would square off against the interloper to protect his brood, cedes ground to the circus. I guess what I am trying to say is that if I did not have an opportunity to grieve because my energies were completely focused on the front line, I would never hesitate to embrace any circus to win the war. Once you understand that about me, i.e., my intense level of desparation, you may be more skeptical of my methods and my armaments.
And here's Nance:
To be sure, there are those -- and Amy is one of them -- who argue it doesn't matter if Terri can recover or not, who aren't pushing the miracle myth, who see her as a severely disabled person who deserves food and water at the least. I can respect those folks. I only wish they'd point out that this happens every single day in this country, not just in Florida.
But that's not really my point. I was struck by what you said about the idiot priest. As you know, I tried to fan the dying embers of faith in my soul when my daughter was born, figuring church would do her good at some level. Unfortunately, at some point I ran across a parish run by a young conservative, who gave the most simple-minded homilies I have ever heard. He brought up birth control every week, at one point comparing it to "a drug you could take that would stop your heart." He mentioned the apparitions of Fatima, or whatever it was -- the visions that supposedly predicted Nazism and that guy shooting the Pope. He even ranted about people who wouldn't take their shopping carts back to the cart corral at the supermarket parking lot. I finally did what you did -- got up to stretch my legs. Only I took my kid with me and never went back.
Is this supposed to inspire people? Marian visions and Jesus on a tortilla? I was embarrassed to be in the same room with him.
On a lighter note. As commenter Mrs Norman Maine has commented, I think way too much about things like Star Trek and Star Wars and Stargate, and I tackled them all at once in a post called, cleverly, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Stargate.
Matthew Hutchinson is a fan of Stargate and a disillusioned fan of George Lucas:
I remember watching an interview with Harrison [Ford] several years ago. He was asked to describe Lucas as a director. He recalled making Star Wars. Despite it being a fun shoot, one of his minor gripes was that Lucas was never very communicative about what he wanted out of their performances.
He described shooting the final escape aboard the Millenium Falcon, after rescuing the Princess, as an example. Take after take, the only feedback Lucas seemed to be able or want to offer was, "Like that, only better."
Star Wars was a fluke. We got lucky with episodes V and VI because he didn't direct them. Unfortunately, we've gotten nothing but celluloid crap with Lucas behind the reigns on episodes I and II. As good as the trailer for EPIII looks, I don't have high hopes for its success.
As for Stargate, I have to admit I was not a fan at first. In fact, I hated the last hour of the movie, starting the moment we learned that Abidos was a desert planet. I was hoping to see a world who's sky was brilliant with cascading colors and a vast, alien landscape.
I didn't start watching the series until after I caught a few episodes of season 4. With nothing else of interest on during that time slot, I simply left the channel on and watched. My interest quickly intensified, and then I decided to catch up on the series. My friend then decided to buy the series DVDs. We were finally up-to-date by the start of the 6th season, and I've been hooked ever since.
One of the things I love most about the show is that the science is explained in such a way that is both entertaining and makes sense.
Funny thing is, even though I can record both it and Atlantis using my DVR, I consider both time slots "holy hour".
M. Berube's essay has forever tarnished a loved song, "Grey Seal" -- now I'm always going to think about it sounding like a 'motivational corporate video' :) (ok, it kinda does) -- Also, everyone slammed "Bennie and the Jets" -- I still play it really loud when it comes on the radio! Everyone pretty much slammed Elton all the way....maybe that's why he comes across so pompous and defensive when I see him interviewed.
I once read a Billy Joel interview where he was SO sad over how the critics never gave him any credit. He is what he is. I felt bad for him. If I would've written "Vienna" -- I would proud of it!
My son just turned 13 on Saturday -- and suddenly, within the last few months, he's asking me all about The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Clapton, The Ramones, Rolling Stones, etc.
So, now his walls are covered in their posters and their music's blaring from his new stereo.
And I had to laugh a little when we got into a *little* argument last night over how long his hair is!
In the Cheers-inspired Eons of Biology, on my way to insulting Liberals and risking the wrath of some feminists I took a casual and not particularly smart swipe at conservatives. Jeff called me on it:
I've read your blog for a long time and enjoy it, so it is with all due respect for what you've written in the past when I say that what you said about conservatives and nature was unsurpassingly stupid and utterly unworthy of you, and I'm speaking not as a conservative (which I am), but as someone who actually knows what conservatives think. Read any serious conservative (or simply think about what you've heard them say) and what do they talk about? Tradition, education, religion, civilization, etc. and they are drearily stuffy about it, and all of which have to be taught and learned. Conservatives talk about restraint, duty, obligation, etc., all of which require people to act against their nature. What was the biggest Republican domestic initiative of the last I don't know how many years now? Welfare reform. The theory was that the welfare system as it was then encouraged self-destructive behavior and should be replaced with a system that would do the opposite. They did and it worked, to an extent. That is, nurture triumphed over (or perhaps even changed) nature. I think what you are confusing conservatives with is not that they believe nature is all-powerful, but that there is an eternal human nature that has to be dealt with as it is, not as, say Pol Pot wish it were, but this is a very different thing. Also, no matter how mistaken they may be on the matter, opponents of homosexual marriage base their arguments far more on the affects it will have on society than as to whether homosexuality is chosen or innate. As I said, I think you have a great blog, but you are way wrong on this one.
Jeff, I'm glad you've been enjoying the page, but as a long time reader you know that I can't get through a post without saying something stupid.
But I think you didn't catch me here being so much stupid as lazy. I was in a hurry to get to my Cheers quote and, incidentally, take a swipe at a certain type of liberal. (I actually expected more complaints from the left side of the aisle on this one.) I didn't have time or the inclination to take on the conservative postion or to even define who I meant when I used the term, so I should just have left it out.
Your comment is a good one and raises good points and I think I should address it in a post all its own. However,just off the cuff: I think you've actually done the job of arguing that the conservative position is that it's all about nature.
Your argument posits that individuals have an ineffable nature that they must control themselves. (I agree with this, by the way.) Tradition, custom, laws, etc. are ways for society to give individuals the tools necessary to direct their own behaviors. The target for improvement is individuals not society itself or its institutions or culture.
Welfare reform is a good example. The problem as conservatives see it is that poverty is a result of individuals bringing it on themselves with bad behavior that they must be encouraged to reform. Liberals tend to see the bad behavior as resulting from the pressures of poverty. So conservatives think the problem is nature and liberals think it's cultural.
And Jeff came back with a totally unnecessary apology, which was nice of him, and a further elucidation of his views, which was also nice of him:
I have to apologize about that "stupid" crack. When I was writing it seemed arch (I love arch!) and slightly satiric, but when I saw it on the commments section, I thought, "You know what, maybe arch isn't as easy as I think it is. Maybe I'll read a little Dorothy Parker first next time." So, sorry about that; it was rude. As far as the good points other people make, please remember the only point I was making is that conservatives do not believe in nature exclusively, although they do believe in an internal human nature. In light of the great amount of work done on the biological roots of human nature (remember that Stalin persecuted Darwinist and promoted Lysenkoism), I don't think too many poeple would disagree with this right now...
I think your take on the conservatives is incomplete. True, they saw the problem as being behavioral (Nature), but that was because the welfare recipients were caught in a counterproductive system (Nurture) that rewarded this behavior. The question, in fact, probably the real question we're probably discussing here is, does the change in Nurture change the Nature, or is the Nature unchanging and reacts to different Nurtures in a way that is predictable and unchanging? Is it possible for Nature to change? And even if it seems to change, is it really changing in a way that is only exposing a different aspect of it that is only appearing because of the change in Nurture, while the Nature itself remains unchanging? As a great philosopher once said, Ay Caramba.
Back when Congress was getting ready to tackle Major League Baseball's "Steroid Scandal!!!!" I wrote, in The cream and the clear, that I thought there was a scandal and because MLB wouldn't police itself, it had invited Congressional intervention. Congress intervened and made a collective horse's patoot of itself, as Domoni could have told me would happen:
There have been MLB players and trainers using and pushing "performance enhancement supplements and drugs" for at least 40 years. Probably longer. In that time some players used and some didn't.
This isn't the first drug crisis MLB has faced. When I was a teen ballplayer I knew some pros used pills. There were players my age who believed they would do the same. Where was Congress then? Why hasn't MLB been "cleaned up" before now?
When steroids became available some used and some didn't. Why not find out how some succeed without steroids? Is education the difference?
Those "youngest" players are adults. I taught my children that no career is worth losing your principles. Or your life. I can't attest to how other parents taught their children.
For the players who come to believe they can not succeed without steroids: If your talent and hard work alone aren't enough to take you to the majors then maybe baseball isn't your career.
Also, I understand you have enough proof regarding the minor leagues and steroids. I need corroboration about the minor leagues. Who else has reported the systemic pushing of steroids?
And, finally, reaching way back into February---in my post My brief career as a pornographer, writing about Boink, a magazine being published by a journalism major at my old school Boston University, I said that I thought the "students" posing naked for the mag were "students" the way the "real live co-eds" dancing at strip clubs are really coeds. Rambler reminded me I should never be so quick to judge:
You should not dismiss so readily the claim of strip clubs that dancers are "real live co-eds." My significant other used to dance, indeed did so for several years until she became a cosmetologist. She danced because she was from another country and had no education to speak of since her country was consumed by civil war during her childhood. But most of her friends from those days were, in fact, paying for school dancing. Not Harvard or Yale, but community college or business college or something like that. Most dancers are women facing difficult monetary problems, but the vast majority know they have a plan to get out.
There, that was much more fun and enlightening than Tim Russert, wasn't it?
Plenty more where those came from. Besides our panel of regulars, including stalwarts Mac Magillicuddy, RatBoy, Denis DeKat, and the Linkmeister, an occasional guest star shows up. Nancy Nall, of course, is an old and loyal pal, but Trish Wilson, Roy Edroso, PZ Myers, Neddie Jingo, Shakespeare's Sister, Tom Watson, Jack Shannon, Susie the Suburban Guerrilla, and Scott Lemieux and Rob Farley from Lawyers, Guns and Money have all been known to drop by for a quick one, as well. We've even had a couple of visits from the brilliant but enigmatic Kip Manley. Keep your eyes peeled and check out all the comments whenever you get the chance.